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  • Writer's pictureAndy Singer

A Different Take On This Season's Failures

By Andy Singer

September 28th, 2023


Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez and Duane Burleson - Getty Images

There is little question but that the 2023 season was a failure for the New York Yankees. Many of us have seen the cracks forming in this roster for some time, though others were more pessimistic than was I about the likelihood of those cracks turning into catastrophic earthquake faults. That said, in a preseason post regarding what the bottom falling out of both the Yankees' and Mets' fortunes would look like, I said a rock-bottom projection for the Yankees would be based on injuries and age-related decline decimating the lineup. I also noted that even in that eventuality, the constructed team was good enough to finish above .500, which still would beat the Mets. On those counts, I was 100% correct, but I can't say that it feels any better to be right in this scenario, given that for the first time since 2016, we won't get to see Yankee playoff baseball.


I tend to be relatively conservative in my evaluations and rarely prone to hyperbole or significant emotion (my fan-relatee outbursts in private are an entirely separate matter). That conservatism has two sides: I rarely predict anything close to what I believe are the 95th or 5th percentile outcomes, but I try to recognize what those projections might look like. I also try to understand which pole is more likely. Coming into 2023, I thought either pole was possible given the volatility built into the roster. I thought it was possible that the young trio of Volpe, Peraza, and Cabrera announced their presence with authority, Dominguez roared through the minors to play a role in the outfield by late-August, and the lineup stayed healthy enough to support a good pitching staff. I also thought injuries, age-related decline, pitching underperformance, and a set of kids not quite ready for primetime could lead to a season like what we saw in 2023. On some level, it was very difficult to imagine a 50th percentile outcome!


So, how do we look at things in hindsight? I have something of a contrary take. I do believe that the Yankees have been emphasizing the wrong brand of analytics in both their evaluations and coaching, but I don't think that's the worst issue here, nor do I believe roster construction is the worst issue, though it is certainly problematic. What then, is the worst issue?


I want you to look at the following batting lines, and gather some thoughts:


Player A: .269/.296/.558, .854 OPS, .270 BABIP

Player B: .267/.295/.511, .806 OPS, .250 BABIP

Player C: .304/.375/.505, .880 OPS, .362 BABIP


All three are very productive bats. If we want to nitpick, Player A and B could stand to take a walk occasionally, and Player C is probably due for some regression due to a high BABIP, but all would be welcome in a Yankee lineup that was devoid of offense all season, right?


Player B is Harrison Bader before his mis-managed IL stint at the end of May. Player A is Giancarlo Stanton before his first IL stint, after which he was never the same at the plate. Player C is Anthony Rizzo through the day he collided with Fernando Tatis Jr. That's 1/3 of the expected lineup!?!


Why do I bring this up? Because the Yankees did assemble an offense. Enough offense? Probably not, given the above trio's injury history, but enough to advance to the playoffs, and possibly more if it was supplemented at the trade deadline (had the Yankees not already been floundering). More critically, none of the above performed near their expected levels after initial injury. Two out of the three tanked after short IL stints. This may be oversimplification, but the single most critical issue the Yankees need to solve this off-season, once and for all, is their training, medical evaluation, and recovery programs. It's a joke at this point. Solve that issue, and I think the Yankees are at least 60% of the way back to contention if they can also get a bit younger and more athletic. There is still a window to contend with a Judge/Cole core, but that window is closing quickly, so the Yankees need to figure it out, fast.



25 commentaires


Cary Greene
Cary Greene
28 sept. 2023

Not signing Corey Seager hurt. Passing on Bryce Harper all those years ago still hurts. Trading Montgomery hurt. Trading for Gallo hurt. Letting go of Estrada, Stephan and Whitlock hurt. Trading for Montas hurt.


Rodon turned out to be a clunker too. Not signing Freddie Freeman hurt. Not trading for Matt Olson (or Sean Murphy to a lesser degree) hurt. Failing to reel in Cody Bellinger on the cheap absolutely hurt. Passing on Seiya Suzuki two years ago hurt. Failing to sign Kyle Schwarber as the DH becasue Stanton the dud clogs the position hurts a lot too.


Mismanaging Sonny Gray hurt. Failing to sign Charlie Morton hurt. Passing on Zack Wheeler hurt. UGGGH. I can't take it. Cashman needs…

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Alan B.
Alan B.
29 sept. 2023
En réponse à

Carey, we all knew once they made the trade for Stanton, the Yankees were not going to go after Harper or Machado when they both hit free agency a year later. As for Seager, I would've let him play SS in 2022, but he would have to know he'd be moving to 3B by '23 or '24. As for Olson, let's just remember what the A's asked in return for Olson and what they accepted from Atlanta. They wanted, to start, both Peraza and Volpe, plus at least Waldichuk, then more. They reportedly turned down Florial, but accepted Christian Pache? To me, Schwarber should've been signed and moved to 1B. With him being a former catcher, I can s…

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etbkarate
28 sept. 2023

Good info, Andy. Agree. Medical staff/physical training is and has been an issue for a while now. The part time scenario under Cressey isn't working. Even more impactful for me is balance and athleticism. Yes, balance of lefty/righty, but also I'm referring to balance of rotational/ linear hitting approaches. Also, it would be nice if they had a set lineup. Address the rotational/linear approaches and the line up will shake out.


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jjw49
28 sept. 2023

Baseball season is a long grind and when you have as many older players injuries are inevitable .... other than Cole who was healthy all year the pitching was sketchy, BP overworked and offense was horrible.... in retrospect Yankees turned out to be overrated starting the season, aging, injury prone with two All Star players... and not much more... the recipe of a .500 club.

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fuster
28 sept. 2023

they need an additional outfielder and a replacement for Stanton

as well as an additional starter.


none of these things are difficult to locate

none will be as inexpensive as they might desire.

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jjw49
29 sept. 2023
En réponse à

Ohtani is obviously the player who fits Yankee perfect profile however with two surgeries his pitching future long term is questionable imo. I think Ohtani stays on WC (Dodgers) and Soto will be available and Is the more realistic option for Yankees. I understand why Ohtani should consider NY but why would he want to go to another team like the one he wants to leave?


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yankeesblog
28 sept. 2023

Interesting take. I agree that the Yankees really need to fix their training/medical evaluation issues but it might also be true that at least some of the players involved are just too injury prone to benefit from even the best training/medical protocols.

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Alan B.
Alan B.
29 sept. 2023
En réponse à

What's depth in today's ML bench? It's not like I can have Jim Spencer on my bench ready to replace Chris Chambliss or Bob Watson at 1B. You got the catcher that's not playing and 3 utility guys. I think another bench player is more valuable than the 8th reliever, even under the analytical pitching formula everyone uses.

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